Actually there is nothing new about this. The previous participation in a coalition by the Greens, with the SPD fron 1998 to 2005, the Greens were just as neo-liberal and war-mongering as this time. As we are seeing in other European nations, wherever the Greens are in government it is the same.
Thomas Klikauer teaches at the Sydney Graduate School of Management at Western Sydney University, Australia. He has over 600 publications including a book on the AfD.
German capitalism – if it wants to continue undisturbed – needs Germany’s environmentalist Green Party. Germany’s somewhat more modern and enlightened sections of capitalism aren’t really interested in the worsening of global warming. They are unhappy with the withering away of valuable farmland, the burning of Germany’s beloved forests and woods, an ever-increasing belt of deserts stretching halfway around the world, and the flooding of islands, entire regions, and cities.
In capitalism, environmental disasters – often framed as natural disasters by the corporate mainstream press – interrupt profit-making supply chains. It makes it ever more difficult – or even impossible – to exploit natural resources. All of this reduces much loved profits of German companies and corporations.
For some of Germany’s super-rich, it is slightly uncomfortable to imagine seeing their second mansion on the picturesque northern island of Sylt slowly floating into the sea. A private jet holiday on some island like the Maldives can be replaced – but Sylt! No way.
German Greens are more than happy to assist the transformation of Germany’s capitalist economy into an even more modern economy based on sustainable technologies. These will support a move away from oil, coal, and gas and towards renewable “green” energy sources. This also means a new energy infrastructure in virtually all sectors of Germany’s economy. This might well usher in a new stage of capitalism. It is not the end of capitalism but a new version of it.
In Germany and elsewhere, the key buzzword for much of this has become Green New Deal. With this new ideology, Germany’s industrial sectors that quickly and successfully turn to regenerative technologies are rapidly becoming leading economic sectors – with the ever supportive fanfare of the somewhat more enlightened section of the corporate mainstream press. This is the rather apocalyptic misbelief that the system that has caused our present environmental pathologies – including our collective move towards the Uninhabitable Earth – is, for some reason, also the system that can fix it.
The New Deal of the 1930s was US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s answer to fixing capitalism. Roosevelt’s new version of capitalism saved capitalism from itself, virtually ending the Great Depression in the United States.
It was a political program consisting of economic and social reforms that created the foundations of a very rudimentary semi-welfare state. Yet, capitalism as a system – and even companies and corporations – had to recognize trade unions while simultaneously sharply regulating them. Not so sharply regulated were the key institutions of capitalism: the banking and financial systems.
Meanwhile, in Germany with its very own Green New Deal, the successful Green Party – in government for the second time – no longer wants to take back its environmental policies that were – from the start – somewhat impoverished. These policies have always been compliant to capitalism. Germany’s Green Party was – and is – hardly an anti-capitalist party.
Once in power, Germany’s poverty-creating economic system did not change at all. The Greens’ first success came during Germany’s so-called red-green government (1998-2005) – the color red symbolizes Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) while green represents the Greens. Together, the SPD/Green government made the poor poorer by weakening Germany’s welfare state, substantially creating not only one of Europe’s biggest underclasses of working poor employed in precarious jobs, but also a government that became the prime tormentor of the poor. Ever since that time, Germany’s Greens believe – according to the election program of the Greens –
We want Germany and Europe to claim the top in new technologies: be it electric cars, clean batteries, quantum computers, artificial intelligence or modern biotechnology. With an active economic and industrial policy, we offer good conditions for sustainable companies. In this way, we are turning the “Made in Germany” brand into a seal of approval for sustainable industry in a climate-neutral Europe.
Very unfortunately for the Greens, its so-called ecologically modernized capitalist production system will still use up valuable natural resources, will continue to poison and destroy the livelihoods of millions of people, and will – inevitably – ruin earth’s climate.
There simply cannot be a capitalist production system without the extraction of surplus value and without exploitation. Capitalism – even in the hallucinations of Germany’s Greens and its neighboring ideology of a Green New Deal – demands profits and by its own system demands ever higher profits – relentless competition that, at times, creates overproduction. Much of this leads to natural wear and tear, waste of raw materials, and the irrational madness of eternal growth.
For Germany’s Greens this is growth with wind turbines, artificial intelligence, and electric cars. The transition towards an environmentally friendlier version of capitalism requires a political party – particularly when in government – with high environmental credibility. Strategically, it has been a good thing that Germany’s Greens have driven out all anti-capitalist streaks in the last 30 years. This assures the support of the corporate mainstream press, virtually assuring electoral successes.
Germany’s Greens have cleansed themselves, ready to serve capitalism. Today, not even the slightest hint of criticism of the harmful, harsh, and inhumane working conditions in German companies can be found in the current election program of the Greens.
In its program, the word “capitalism” does not appear even once – in 132 pages! Instead, it euphemistically re-frames German capitalism as our industrial country. Just as in almost every capitalist country, in Germany, no political party ever comes to power without reconciling itself with capitalism.
In Germany, a political party also needs to – rather traditionally! – swear allegiance to the military, now framed as NATO membership. The Greens have long done this, reaching its height during the aforementioned red-green federal government of 1998-2005. It was this government that drove Germany even further into an intensified class struggle from above. It was just as Warren Buffett once said,
There’s class warfare, all right,but it’s my class, the rich class,that’s making war, and we’re winning.
To do that, the Greens were at hand – together with the always capital-compliant social democratic SPD – to dismantle Germany’s once highly regulated labor market and create what is known as precariat.
Today, Germany’s Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, remains one of the favorites of German executives and bosses, according to the business weekly Wirtschaftswoche. Yet, during their previous time in government (1998-2005), the pro-business SPD and the pro-business Greens launched one of the harshest programs to further impoverish and disadvantage workers ever put in place since 1945. It surpassed anything Germany’s true conservatives – the CDU – and its neoliberal offshoot could manage.
It was made famous under the heading Agenda 2010, culminating in the much hated Hartz IV laws. The basis of these euphemistically framed reforms (read: deregulation and pro-business regulation) came with a horror catalogue of neoliberal policies. It was laid out by the Bertelsmann Foundation, a private lobbying institution and think tank of the Bertelsmann media empire.
On its behalf, the ever compliant red(SPD)-green government was more than willing to destroy hard- won social and employment rights while diluting – if not partially eliminating – sections of Germany’s public social insurance system, the remnants of its welfare state.
The new labor laws weakened the legal protection of trade unions while making collective agreements even more difficult to achieve than before. As one might expect from the pro-business SPD, by June 2003, a whopping 80% of the delegates at the SPD’s party congress approved the party executive lead. They approved what it called Courage to Change, i.e. the infamous neoliberal Agenda 2010. Worse, Green Party bosses were even happier when they managed to gain the support of 90% of members at their party congress. That sealed the fate of Germany’s welfare state.
Their neoliberal policies resulted in deep social cuts. What came was a downward re-regulation of unemployment and social assistance at a much lower level. It reduced unemployment benefits. SPD-Greens softened protection against dismissal in Germany’s employment system. Sick benefits were watered down.
Meanwhile, it also shifted social and economic risks onto the wages of workers. Most significantly for German companies and corporations, it reduced company wage costs. Finally, it introduced an element of coercion, paternalism, and even cruelty into the lives of many people receiving social assistance. The same was done to Germany’s long-term unemployed.
Worse, Germany’s red-green government abolished many medical services previously offered. It also increased the cost burden for those people with chronic illnesses. Out-of-pocket payments for medication were increased while personal choices concerning medical treatment became more limited.
Today, when you see Germans with serious gaps in their teeth and badly fitting eyeglasses, you might want to remember the red-green government of 1998-2005. As always, corporate media propaganda helped to target and manipulate public opinion while, simultaneously, marginalizing and isolating critiques of Agenda 2010.
Under the red-green coalition, Germany’s unemployed and social welfare recipients were humiliated even more when their social situation was defined as tabloid TV-watching parasites who had only themselves to blame. Plus, it was all in their genes anyway. On a more strategic level, Germany’s Lumpenproletariat and the proletariat were set against each other.
Setting one against the other and thereby destroying solidarity among workers is known as de-solidarization in Germany. Beyond desolidarization, there is virtually no regret for having driven so many people into poverty. In their current party program, the Greens do not seek to abolish their unjust Hartz IV laws, but there are plans to change them.
Simultaneously, there are plans to ensure that Germany’s minimum wage will rise to €12, which ensures that poverty in retirement is likely to remain. Yet, today’s Greens like to convince themselves and others that all this was a long time ago. And indeed, today there is a new generation with Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Economics Minister Robert Habeck.
More importantly, politicians of the first red-green coalition – including Jürgen Trittin, Renate Künast, Cem Özdemir, Katrin Göring-Eckardt, Claudia Roth and many others – are still in office. Some are in ministerial positions today. Even the green smoke bombs dropped by Habeck and Baerbock to hide their unsavory past disguise the fact that the Green politicians of 1998-2005 who engineered mass poverty are still there.
Yet, the alternative hippy lifestyle, the change towards a different world – away from capitalism – has truly gone, if it ever was there in the first place. Today’s Greens are determined to become a political party just like others. Today, there are next to no dissenting voices inside the Greens on the issue of German armament and war – and not even on the deliberate destruction of Germany’s welfare state.
Meanwhile, many Green politicians have made a career inside the party or in business – from tobacco and confectionery to nuclear or pharmaceutical lobbying. Former Green politicians are found everywhere. And those who are in leading positions of state – Annalena Baerbock, Robert Habeck, and Cem Özdemir – seek traditional careers as full-time politicians.
For example, Green politician Özdemir is a member of the Atlantik-Brücke – a non-public, non-democratically controlled association that mediates between German and US capitalism and the military. It is by invitation only. You cannot join the club. You have to be either powerful or useful, or both.
As a Greens boss, Baerbock took part in a meeting of the Atlantik-Brücke in February 2019. In the same year, she was admitted to the exclusive international private network The Forum of Young Global Leaders, where managers and politicians are adorned with actresses and crypto-nobles while they cultivate their relationships. Of course, all this is for the benefit of humanity.
This forum is the equal of the exclusive corporate World Economic Forum, which meets annually in Davos – per private jet, of course. It represents hundreds of the world’s largest corporations complicit in creating global poverty and the looming worldwide climate catastrophe.
Ms. Baerbock follows in the footsteps of her predecessor, Joschka Fischer. On his 70th birthday, Fischer was congratulated by Baerbock via Twitter: Joschka Fischer brought rock’n’roll into politics and led the Greens into the ability to govern. He also made a lot of uncomfortable decisions for our party. But confidence and strength only arise from such nerve.
The Greens were once an anti-militarist and even pacifist party. From its foundation in 1980 to 1987, German Greens wanted to dissolve NATO and the Warsaw Pact and disarm and dissolve Germany’s army, the Bundeswehr – the successor of Hitler’s Wehrmacht.
Yet, behind the back of environmentalists, pacifist and anti-militarist representatives of the Greens’ right-wing – known as Realos – were invited by SPD officials to secret meetings from 1987 onwards. The goal was to target the Greens, getting the party ready for government. It meant expelling its anti-militarism and anti-capitalism. Party heavies like Joschka Fischer and Daniel Cohn-Bendit even initiated a dispute in the mid-1990s about a military intervention in Yugoslavia.
Prior to that, Germany had done a lot to destroy the Yugoslav state. Germany fueled inner-Yugoslav conflicts when the conservative CDU-FDP government recognized Slovenia and Croatia as independent nations. This assisted in the creation of civil war-like conditions. Not much later, the dispute was over the issue of war. Cohn-Bendit called for military intervention by Germany.
The Yugoslav conflict was about the destruction of the last non-Stalinist socialist state in Europe. Yugoslavia was of geostrategic interest, granting access to resources in Asia. It was also about demonstrating NATO’s power without a UN mandate. The Greens – together with the SPD – were able to get Germany’s semi-left and progressive voters on a war footing. Only they could eradicate Germany’s never again, anti-war sentiment.
Six months later, Germany’s Foreign Minister Fischer (Greens) sounded like Ernst Jünger’s Storm of Steel – a militaristic, chauvinistic war-glorying crypto-poem that Fischer adored. Fischer said, The Greens want to govern, now they are being hardened or burned to ashes. On March 24, 1999, NATO bombed Yugoslavia for 78 days of war; 38,000 aerial sorties were flown, dropping 9,160 tons of bombs.
NATO also fired about 31,000 projectiles, with a total of ten tons of depleted uranium, at Yugoslavia. People died in meadows, in houses, on trains, on the run, and in hospitals, factories, student residences and schools.
In November 2001, as Bush’s War on Terror raged with his Operation Enduring Freedom, Germany’s parliament – the Bundestag – sent 1,200 Bundeswehr soldiers to a country that Germany wasn’t attacking and against which it had not declared war: Afghanistan. Just eight Green parliamentarians opposed the war against Afghanistan.
Today, one thing is certain: future military operations or extensive new welfare state cuts will not fail because of the Greens. The moral backbone – if the party ever had one in the first place – has comprehensively been broken. Today, Germany’s Green Party will support capitalism’s neoliberal de-regulation (read: pro-business) agenda as well as any new war – in the Ukraine, Africa, and elsewhere.
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